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Key Capitol Hill Hearings

Series/Special. Speeches from policy makers and coverage from around the country. (Stereo)

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Va 19, Us 18, Afghanistan 13, Dempsey 12, Syria 10, United States 10, China 10, Vietnam 9, Iraq 8, U.s. 7, America 5, Mr. Bergmann 5, Ronnie 5, Pentagon 5, Donley 4, The Va 4, Mrs. Mcnutt 4, Kerry 4, Iran 4, Ms. Mcnutt 4,
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  CSPAN    Key Capitol Hill Hearings    Series/Special. Speeches from policy makers  
   and coverage from around the country. (Stereo)  

    December 4, 2013
    2:00 - 4:01pm EST  

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gail and mr. z has that. .. that the united states is wrong for trying to have a destabilized radical islamist nation, not have nuclear weapons and that we have to give something up for that to happen, that's just kind of silly. i think we are allowed to ask,
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or tell that state you get to have nuclear weapons. i think maybe people are so far removed from what nuclear capability really means and the massive devastation and destruction, even a backpack brought across the southern border to my district what that would do to the our economy, secure life. with a look at this as a very real threat. no matter how science fiction it is to think about that happening. it could easily happen. it's our job to stop it. >> host: representative hunter, iran has not ended and f the country for more than 200 just. they have a right to defend themselves. what do you say to that argument? >> guest: iran has invaded other countries do proxy terrorist the they're in syria, ma lebanon. they are in a lot of places doing bad things. they are in afghanistan. so they haven't invaded because that's not what these countries do. what these countries do is when
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i say countries, countries like afghanistan, prewar, and iran, they have proxy care. they fund, promote and train at actors in their state and then send them out to other countries to destabilize those countries. >> host: front page of "the new york times," i don't know if you saw this story. jihadists groups gain internal across the middle peace. >> guest: that's true. in fact, iraq and syria, ma especially because what you have is this. you have a rat line from syria to iraq. that's what the getting all their weapons, a lot of the fighters. iran is just sending them to iraq because there is no american military presence.
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and iranians and al qaeda and iraq. al qaeda has now moved into syria. they do have spots where there is no threat to them whatsoever and they're setting up basically al qaeda training grass just like we had in afghanistan. because there's no way for us to go in there and stop them. there's no way for other countries because of the civil war in syria and the lawlessness in iraq. that's why if you go back to the iraq security agreement that never got done, it was a lot more important i think than people realize because you wouldn't have that rat line going between iran and syria. you would at least have some check on the syrians and al qaeda operative industry and iraq. >> host: let's go to john next. you're on the air. go ahead. >> caller: hi. i'm listening to the astounding misleading statements,
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misconceptions, falsehoods that this congressman -- i hardly know where to begin to comment. let's take the iraq invasion to begin with. he says it was the right thing and we did the right thing by invading it. first of all we went in there under the concept that iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which was proven to be false. when that was proven to be false the republicans turned around and said we were bringing the iraqis democracy. i don't ever recall the iraqis ask as to bring them democracy. let's go -- i'm just astounded by the comments this man is making. let's talk about the middle east over all. he sat there and called middle easterners liars, in their negotiations. what about the fact -- he talked about iran supporting other organizations in the middle
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east. does he not called the invasion of iraq a support of invasion of the middle east? >> host: we'll have the congressman respond. >> guest: number one, there were weapons of mass destruction in iraq. we can go through this over and over again but i think what has been proven out now, the last year, is syria, got iraq's weapons of mass destruction. it's not talked about a lot. people don't like to admit that bush was right. cheney was right. the international intelligence community was right. and that those weapons of mass destruction, all of those horrible gases that assad has used on his own people, a lot of those and technology from that came from iraq. we just didn't get it done before across the border from iraq into syria. number two, the iranians duty seed andy july, and they have shown over and over again. the iranians still have an
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american hostage. so you have been doing a lot of bad things. once again, i don't understand why you want to put faith in the country that has shown over and over and over again that it will lie, it will deceive and they will do anything, bomb people and promote terrorism to get what they want. >> host: want to get your take on another story independence day. joe biden meeting with asian leaders in china today and the headline in the "washington post" is that biden china's move raises tension. critical of drones. tries to leave room for talks. tell us what's going on and what is your take? >> guest: china has developed this air defense identification, which the administration has told our military plane to ignore, that the faa to bring into effect. so if you're on a commercial airliner you have to take this into account. you've got to respond -- i'm not sure how that works, probably transponders, but our military
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side is not recognizing it. china will try to -- they'll try to exert itself over japan and our allies in that region, and i think we all knew this was something. we've been talking on china since i've been in congress the last five years and wanted to expand and that's what's happening right now. what i think will happen is they will push further and further and further, every time, and this is once again much harder than the iran deal because china is a big old over american debt, a huge part of our economy. and they're becoming more westernized while at the same time building up their military and building their military up in a way where it's purely targeted at the american military. they are not doing their military up in a protected way against everybody. they are billing specific weapons systems that would take out american military power. >> host: how should the united
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states respond? >> guest: by not recognizing it. that's what they've done at this point. that dod has not recognized it. the defense agencies have sent ignored. i think that's the right thing host back front page -- >> host: front page. u.s. assault defense ties boards to send it. diane feinstein and senator menendez. >> guest: senator feinstein i believe she is the chairwoman of the intel committee in the senate. that means that she knows all the bad things that the chinese were doing. whether it's banking systems, our water systems. electrical grid and on our military system, not to say that the chinese have impacted thousands of business around the nation trying to steal ideas. that's not just being done by some rogue communist chinese agent. that's been done by the chinese government. to say that they are huawei, a
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big chinese companies going to install the actual backbone for the south korea telecommunications network, that should be a scary thing for south korea and for the united states because we need some security there. as long as we're in south korea helping them against north korea, there ought to be some safety in whom ever they choose to do their telecommunications. there's a lot of other countries, european countries, the united states has the ability to do this. and also other asians companies that are not communist chinese. >> host: what's going on with the asia-pacific region right now? and our relationship with asian countries? >> guest: i think it's like anything. when you push out more and more you're going to encounter more and more that you didn't know. that's kind of what's happening. we have now shifted to the asian region, and we are going to have a 60-40 makes in the future meaning 60% of our military
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forces will be in the area as opposed to the middle east and the east and you have 40% in the middle east and east and i think as that happens we are going to find out new things and i think china and their allies there are going to respond to is pushing out everything that's what's happening right now. >> host: thank you for talking to our viewers. great conversation this morning. >> guest: thank you. >> if you missed any of that discussion is available on our website at c-span.org. live pictures from the pentagon. we are waiting remarks from defense secretary chuck hagel and the chair of the joint chiefs, general martin dempsey. they should get underway in just a couple of moments. this is live coverage on c-span2. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> again, we are waiting remarks from defense secretary chuck hagel amateur of the joint chiefs of staff, general martin dempsey. live at the pentagon. we got the two-minute warning about two minutes ago and it looks like it's about to get underway. live coverage here on c-span2. >> good afternoon. at first, let me acknowledge an announcement i made yesterday regarding christine fox, who is going to be our new acting deputy secretary of defense. i recommended christine to present obama because i felt we needed the continuity to
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continue with some of the most defining challenges that we had been facing and will continue to face in this department over a number of years. and you know what those are. it's budget, sequestration. we're finishing up qdr. review. and how all that impacts strategic interest and focus and where we go from here. she brings the continuity. she brings the expertise, the leadership. she has relationships. she is highly respected in the congress, in the white house, and certainly around here. so i want to acknowledge her coming over to give us some of her time. she thought a few months ago she was going to escape. she didn't. she will be an important part of how we go forward here the next
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few months, and have great confidence in her, and look forward to working with her again. i just spent some time with her this one as we laid out kind of the next steps year for the next few weeks. i also want to take an opportunity to thank ash carter. we had a going away ceremony on monday, which some of you attended or saw. he will be greatly missed here. i will miss him personally. he has been a tremendous part of this institution for certainly the last five years, and even before that. so i want to publicly acknowledge his service and sacrifices, and what he's meant to all of us and we will miss him. now, this afternoon, general dempsey and i want to talk about some things that we are doing, decisions we made to go forward
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in the area of consolidation and realignment and efforts to streamline our headquarters operations, and particularly office of the secretary of defense operations. and general dempsey offers some comments on what he's doing with the joint chiefs. i think you all know that institutional reform is generally an important part of what we have been trying to accomplish this year. it is not just a matter of being forced into that because i sequestration and budget reductions. that's part of it, but like always, all institutions, we are captive to and subject to environments, challenges and
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change, threats change. and our world, our country, this institution is not in the same place as it was 12 years ago, or even five years ago. if you begin with, we have unwound from one long war in iraq. we are unwinding from the longest war we've ever been in in afghanistan. different kinds of threats today, different dynamics. strategic interests vary, but the other part of that is that it doesn't mean that we are retreating from any part of the world. in fact, i'm leaving tonight for the middle east to spend a couple of days in bahrain attending the dialogue and then over to qatar and maybe some other countries. but i will say in that speech that i give there, and it does
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relate to what we're talking about here today, that our interests, the united states of america's interests, are the world's interest. our interests are not defined by one region or one country or one area. and that's part of what this announcement is today as we develop toward and into the next year on a lot of changes and adjustments and realignments that will be made in this institution to better prepare this institution to deal with the threats and the challenges that not only are here today but we anticipate is to come. cyber being a very good example. cyber threats are real. five years ago it wasn't the same dimension as we now see.
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so, let me begin this way. then i'm going to ask general dempsey to make some comments and then we will take your questions. with the pentagon confronting historically deep and steep and abrupt spending reductions after a decade of significant budget growth, there is a clear need and an opportunity. and i emphasize opportunity to pare back overhead and streamline headquarters across this department. and that is a result of really an era of post-9/11 that we have operably been focused on, had to be focused on to secure this country. our efforts have begun with the office of secretary defense and the joint staff. and today, general dempsey and i will announce decisions and organizational changes within, for me, the office of the secretary of defense, general dempsey, the joint chiefs, that would result in budget savings
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and better align our structures and resources with beauty strategic interests and priorities. earlier this year i directed a strategic choices and management review. that review developed options to help dod plan for a range of the future budget scenarios. including the persistence of sequester level cuts of the next decade. and as all of you know, these cuts unless changed will represent roughly i've hundred billion dollars reduction over the next 10 years, and as an addition the $487 billion spending cut dod is already implemented. included in the strategic choices and management review was a comprehensive look at a savings, all savings that could be achieved by reducing overhead throughout the department and streamlining organizations including osd and the joint staff. as you may recall i announced this summer that dod would reduce major headquarters operating budgets by 20% over
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the next five years. these reductions are only a first step in dod's efforts to realign defense spending to meet new fiscal realities and strategic priorities. difficult but necessary choices remain ahead for the department. choices on compensation reform, force structure, acquisitions and other major parts of dod. these choices will be much more difficult if congress fails to hold sequestration and fully funds the president's budget request. congress must be a full partner in our efforts to responsibly bring down defense spending. and to implement needed institutional reforms that maximize the use of our resources. and i look forward to working with congress next year in this effort. when i announced the 20% headquarters reductions i made clear they would begin in the office of the secretary of defense. subsequently i asked former air force secretary mike donnelly, based on initial findings of the
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strategic choices and management review, to lead a review of osd that we determine how to implement these cuts and consider opportunities for organizational change and streamlining. secretary donley has completed his work, and we're moving now ahead with implementing a number of recommendations and changes in line with his work and the result of the strategic choices and management review. specifically today i'm directing each of my principal staff assistance to begin and limiting their plans to meet the 20% budget reductions by fiscal year 2019. much of the savings will be achieved through contractor reductions, although there will be reductions and civilian personnel. ultimately, other headquarters element will be a limiting -- we will detail our plans to achieve the savings in the pentagon's budget submission next year. usb reductions are comprehensive, touching many aspects of our organization,
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personnel and resources. we recognize that the dollar savings generated by the usd reductionreduction s at least a billion dollars over the next five years is a small percentage of the sequester level cuts underscore the challenges it faces the department and absorbing these very large sequester level reductions. still every dollar that we saved by reducing the size of her headquarters and back office operations is a dollar that we can be investing in war fighting capabilities and readiness. beyond these fiscal considerations, our goal is to use this opportunity to streamline osd, making a more agile and responsive. i related goal was to reduce the number of direct reports to the secretary of defense. consolidate duplicative or overlapping functions and strengthen departmentwide management functions. with these objectives in mind, secretary donley's review take a close look at a with these organizational chart, and reform
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proposals. today i'm directing a series of changes that will reshape osd and i believe that are prepared us for our future fiscal challenges and an evolving strategic environment. first, we will be restructuring the office of the undersecretary of defense for policy, based on extensive internal review of the organization led by the current undersecretary defense for policy jim miller. this restructuring a better balance workload across policies, assistant secretaries of defense, sustained our emphasis on the asia-pacific region, space and cyber capabilities and better integrate our focus on emerging threats with homeland defense efforts and strengthen our security cooperation efforts, while eliminating some senior executive positions, specifically the plan eliminates a deputy under sector of defense position and chief of staff
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phaseout the task force on business and stability operations and realigns the portfolios of the five assistant secretaries of defense for policy. the plan also eliminates or deputy assistant secretary of defense positions and their corresponding support structures who -- consolidation and realignment of the policy staff overall structure. second term we will strengthen the deputy chief management officer, the d.c. and the position by realigning the office of the director of administration and management and its components under the structure. secretary donley's review found that since its inception dcmo has lacked the resources and the mandate to effectively fulfill its role as a dod wide manager. meanwhile, the bam and others have important organizational managemenmanagemen t planning and oversight functions across the department and the national capital region will further and
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able to dcmo's work. the consolidation of these offices into a true dod wide management office will provide for better coordination and integration of dod's business affairs, including performance management and compliance, and result in a much stronger and more empowered deputy chief management officer. third is the dcm o. organization becomes a focal point for dod wide management, administration, business oversight, it might intent to transfer specific responsibility for business i.t. systems from the dcmo that dod's chief information officer. i will work with congress to make this change because it will strengthen dod's ability to address growing i.t. and cyber jobs. the undersecretary defense for acquisition, technology and logistics will continue to be responsible for acquisitions of i.t. systems. forthcoming or to consolidate
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intelligence oversight and privacy compliance functions, i'm directing that the office of the assistant to the secretary of defense for intelligence oversight and the defense of privacy and civil liberties officers be combined into a single office that would be a line under the new dcmo organization. fifth, as part of our overall streamlining efforts, the office of net assessment will report to the undersecretary of defense for policy. we will preserve ona as a distinct organization with direct links to the secretary of defense. this change will better ensure the long range compared analysis inform and influence of dod's overall strategy and policy. six, i'm directing that the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness we balance resources across the three assistance act as a defense in order to sharpen the focus on force management, force readiness and military health care and military compensation
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and retirement reform. seven, i'm directing the undersecretary defense for intelligence to move forward with planning or how its mission can focus should evolve after the drawdown of the post-nine 9/11 conflict including staffing level positions and progress. eight, of also approved plans for eliminating the five remaining deputy undersecretary of defense who are not presidentially appointed or senate confirmed, direction from the congress. the further improve the management administration of osd, i'm directing additional longer-term follow-up actions to include refining osd budget categories, including oversight to contractor support, completing a review of osd's workload, and directing a biannual review of osd to establish a regular assessment of the offices requirements. once fully implement these actions will provide improved and sustained oversight of osd
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structure resources. all these decisions will not only result in a smaller, flatter osd, but one that i believe will be better prepared for serious and complex 21st century security challenges that we face as a department and as a nation. in this constraint budget environment, we will continue to look for ways to reduce overhead, improve efficiency, and maximize combat power. but we must do so in a deliberate manner after careful consideration of how best to ensure this department is able to carry out its mission of defending the nation. most of the reductions in osd staff i've announced today will occur through a process of natural attrition in order to minimize the impact on our workforce. if the department is forced to take a steep sequestration cut in the order of $500 billion over the next 10 years, we may years, we may need to input additional reductions. as i've said before,
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sequestration is irresponsible and poses an unnecessary risk to our military's ability to a comp which is nation and our readiness. congress should rollback sequestration and fully fund the president's budget request which provides the department with a time, the flexibility, the certainty needed to strategically transition our military through a postwar posture. one final point. bureaucracies are often derided, but the reality is that an organization of dod's size, complexity and global reach will always require sophisticated headquarter structures that provide effective oversight and management over half a trillion dollar enterprise. the men and women who work at the pentagon and other headquarters elements, whether civilian, military or contractors, our dedicated individuals who deserve respect and appreciation.
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even as we realize our headquarter organizations, we will focus new energy on retaining the world-class professionals who we depend on every day. to fulfill our mission and keep this country safe. my expectation is that the changes we make will empower our people by reducing layers of bureaucracy, and making our organization more adaptable, accountable, and agile. i know this is been a trying period for all dod personnel and their families in the wake of sequestration, furloughs, and a government shutdown. through it all i workforce has remained focused and dedicated, and i know that they will remain just as focused as we work to put our organization on a strong path for the future. thank you. demo dempsey. >> thanks, mr. secretary. just to highlight what the secretary said about, there's some things we have done whether or not we are faced with the budget control act and this
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thing called sequestration but before you mentioned worth noting again, those are the size of our headquarters. so just as he directed the office of the second of defense to make these changes, so will the joint staff, the combatant commanders, the service chiefs, as well as to restore headquarters and above throughout the world. second take on health care, we have said for some time that we need to adjust or slow the rate of growth in those activities in order to ensure that the all-volunteer force remains sustainable, as well as allows us to balance the force force ts modernization, training, readiness and manpower. third, access infrastructure. we have it. and we need to begin to consolidate infrastructure, close certain parts of her infrastructure. and forth of course is acquisition reform where the goal is to make ourselves, to get out of this pattern where
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things are acquired and delivered to slowly and too expensive. we can't do that ourselves. we're going to need help across virtually each one of these areas and we will be looking to gain support for that over time. it's worth noting that last week we entered our 13th year of combat in afghanistan. while simultaneously delivering much-needed relief supplies in the philippines, in the aftermath of typhoon haiyan. and while maintaining a steady state of presence in the arabian gulf and eastern mediterranean, and in the pacific. as a backstop to our important diplomatic endeavors as a nation. so as we consider how to maintain our military strength, we must always remove are our real strategic advantage and that, of course, are the men and women who serve in uniform. and so the purpose of all of the reform efforts that we've been describing here is aimed at
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ensuring that we preserve and actually enhance the leadership training and equipping of our forces, because in so doing and in the only so doing will we be sure to keep our nation and in from coercion. thank you so much. >> a question for both of you. on china. with regard to this -- mr. secretary, you've called a destabilizing. i'm wondering whether you thought your chinese counterpart about this? do you think they should roll it back? and if i could ask both of you more broadly, what do you see as the big picture significance -- are the chinese responding to the u.s. talking about visiting the pacific? or how do you even move? >> as to your first question, bob, i have not spoken to my chinese counterpart. i've spoken to our allies about
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the chinese. as to your question, the bigger picture, what may be behind this, first, i don't know. but i would focus on one particular area here that general dempsey and the chiefs have put a lot of effort into, and was very much a centerpiece of the conversation between president she and president obama a few months ago. and that is develop a stronger military to military relationship between the pla and the united states. we have been working at that, both sides actually, and you might recall that my counterpart, the chinese defense minister was here in august, and i hosted him here. and i've seen him two other
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times in the asia-pacific at -- were with me during those occasions. we are working toward a stronger relationship to build some mechanisms to address some of these tension issues, which probably are not going to get any less complicated in the east and south china sea. it's important for china, japan, south korea, all the nations in this area to stay calm and responsible. these are combustible issues. that's been a role that we have tried to play, the united states, in the influence that we have in that area, and with our allies. but this is a time when we need to carefully, all of us, work
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through some of these differences. and that's the position that we've taken. it is important that international team unity that's getting more and more crowded, that we all understand and have common interest in the preservation of open, free sea lanes and what's in the interests of our countries, our economy, our securities. and we going to have to work on mechanisms that help accommodate that rules of conduct in other areas. and that's an area where we can continue to play a role income and will. [inaudible] >> well, i think we made pretty clear what our position is, the united states, on this. and it's not that aid itself is new. or unique. the biggest concern that we have is how it was done so
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unilaterally and so immediately without any consultation or internationally consultation. that's not a wise course of action to take for any country. >> i have actually reached out to the schedulers to connect you with my chinese counterpart but i suspect it will occur following the vice president's visit. i think it's probably worth noting that we're not talking about sovereign airspace. we talk about international airspace, adjacent to sovereign airspace. and as you know the international norm i think as you know, the international norm is that entering tom udall report if you intended to enter the sovereign airspace of the country that declared that. so it wasn't a declaration that us was destabilizing. it was their assertion that they would cause all aircraft entering the district report regard to whether they were intending to enter into the
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sovereign airspace of china. and that is destabilizing. >> i have a question on syria. mr. secretary and chairman dempsey, you have both expressed in the past about extremist groups, and mainly in syria. where you see now militants aligned with al qaeda and some of them supported by saudi arabia, are capable of threatening the regional security. by question is, how can you see a way out of this crisis? and do you agree with what the ambassador said today about the united states has to start talking with president assad? >> well first, it's been the position of the united states that a political settlement is the appropriate and responsible way out of this. and as you know, there is a geneva ii conference scheduled
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now in late january, that will continue to pursue that path and that effort. also, as you all are well aware, the chemical weapons peace of this issue is on track. that's not insignificant. united states has been working closely with our international partners on this and the opcw. we have as you know offered technical support, technology, to assist in the destruction of the precursors in the chemical weapons themselves. so that's another dimension of this. i think that we continue and will continue, must continue, to find a diplomatic solution to
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this huge humanitarian catastrophe. it's dangerous. it presents new dimensions in already unstable middle east on all syria's borders. so i think we are taking the responsible approach in pursuing the right action. >> if i could add, my orders from the president have not changed. and that is to say, we are maintaining our presence and our readiness, our deterrence and our capabilities at heightened levels in support of the other efforts the secretary just mentioned. secondly, you asked how do we see our way through this. i think we see our way through this by recognizing this as a regional issue, not an individual. this is not an individual country, an individual group issue.
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it's a network of challenges, and i think regionally and see how each group, some of which aspired the global influence, some of which aspired to regional influence, some of which aspired local influence but each of those require a different approach. so seeing as the region and then working it through our partners is clearly the path that will allow us to solicit a complex issue, whether it runs from, as i said before, a route to to mask his to baghdad, or from afghanistan and into northern africa. and lasting is i will leave diplomacy to the diplomats. >> "the wall street journal" reported that the administration is now reaching out to some of the islamist groups inside see. is this an acknowledgment that al qaeda is getting the upper hand and there is concern if you don't reach out to these groups you won't have an influence in
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syria first can you comment on that, both of you? >> well, that's not my area that i deal with, the diplomatic track every day on this. i would just say that if, in fact, there's going to be a diplomatic resolution, if that is the responsible approach, and we are taking that as i noted, you all know, and the january geneva ii meeting is on track to occur, if this is all going to come to some kind of a diplomatic solution, then all parties involved are going to have to be represented some way. i'll leave that up to secretary kerry and the administration to sort that out. but i think if that is the goal, that's the objective, to try to contain this, then i think general dempsey's comments about
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regional issue is exactly right. then this can be achieved by just narrow strips of interest in this, but again i believe that up to secretary kerry. >> if i could add, jennifer. i think it's worth knowing whether these groups have any intent whatsoever to be moderate and inclusive, or whether they are from the start, intend to be radical and an exclusive. so i think finding that out, however we do so, is worth the effort. [inaudible] >> remember, i've said for some time, there are more groups the brand themselves as al qaeda. now, whether they actually aligned himself with al qaeda's global terrorist ideology is another issue. we are still learning about some of these groups spent this is a very complicated issue as you all know, just sorting out who's
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interests are whose interests and to represent to. it takes some time to do this, and i think the path we are on is responsible. >> in the new policy organization, how will you ensure that homeland defense and western hemisphere security still gets the attention needed? and also in the qdr, there's a perception in washington that the qdr hasn't accomplished that much. can you, thus far, can you offer any new clear evidence to the contrary? >> i don't know whose observations those are because i haven't seen the qdr results yet because they are not in yet. so i suspect great speculation what may come out of that, but the results of the qdr are not in yet and i've not seen a draft of it. maybe someone else has, i doubt it, but the qdr is an important
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mechanism that, as you know, that is put together by very knowledgeable, experienced individuals that help guide through recommendations the decision-makers, the policymakers, on what our interests are and how we achieve those interests. so we look forward, i know the president does, i do, secretary kerry, ambassador rice in particular, to looking at that. and it's also an effort, and enterprise right now that comes with a very important time which i noted in my remarks. it comes at a budget time. it comes at sequestration time. it comes at a re- organization restructuring institutional reform time. so it will be helpful, and i don't have really much to say beyond that because we have not
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seen the report yet. >> could i comment on that actually? one of the things that is coming out of the qdr that begin to be a limited by some strategic seminars that we ran about a year ago, is that the homeland is no longer a sanctuary. it if we are engaged in a conflict, virtually anywhere in the globe, there is likely to be some effect in the homeland, whether it's potentially ballistic missiles or cyber. something could potentially affect the homeland in a way that it hasn't heretofore. so the homeland is actually achieving much greater prominence in our discussions of our future strategy and in time in my 40 years. and it should. as to the qdr, i have to first point out how difficult it is doing a qdr right now in this environment of budget
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uncertainty. because any strategy worth anything has to balance in some ways and means. the object is compelling to operate and the resources available. so what you're saying is we are actually having to manage to look at it through several different alternative futures. that maybe what you're hearing reflected, but we will eventually lead at alternative futures. >> on homeland, because you're merging homeland with another position so you will not have a full speed we are upgrading it. yes. because of the same points general dempsey just made. i spent two hours yesterday with joe jacoby going through -- general jacoby going through with him some of his new planning that general dempsey have spent a lot of time on for north, and the homeland. and it' its critical importance going to continue to be critically important.
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just as general dempsey said. so no, we are actually going to give more attention to that office as we streamline the process so that the secretary of defense has more access, more direct access as it works to the policy people. so i don't, or whoever secretary defense is, has to every other layers in between. so that was very much part of the focus on that particular issue when we made these decisions and when secretary donley's report came back. >> mr. secretarsecretar y, thank you. margaret brennan. on afghanistan, secretary kerry has suggested today with a security agreement hanging in the balance that is actually your counterpart who might have the authority to finalize. i'm wondering if that's an avenue you are actually
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pursuing? and general, if you could comment, given the uncertainty here, all the actions are planned for, do they not include in fact a zero option given where we are on schedule? >> i've not talked to secretary terry about those comments. i saw those comments. well, i would answer the question this way. secretary kerry and president karzai reached an agreement, which we, the president, his national security council, signed off on. that agreement was the text that was presented which president karzai intel. they enthusiastically, strongly endorsed that text, that agreement. and strongly recommended to president karzai to sign it.
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every public official we've heard from in afghanistan has strongly supported the signing of that agreement. the issue of who has the authority to speak for the sovereign nation of afghanistan, i suppose the lawyers can figure that out. what we would be interested in, sort has secretary of defense, is whatever document is agreed to. as you know it has to go to their department for ratification not unlike our senate and the treaty. and if it's ratified by their parliament, then whether it's the minister of defense or the president, someone who has the authority to sign on behalf of afghanistan, i suspect, i suspect that would fulfill the kind of commitment we need but i don't want to veer too much further into legal territory
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until i have a further understanding of what exactly the authorities are. >> thank you. so you know from our perspective as a look at the dsa, what we need to account for is the freedom of movement for military personnel, we'll have to deal to move freely in order to accomplish train, advise assist test. secondly, legal protections for those who serve against an afghan legal system that is best described as nation and will take some time to mature. them sometime force protection. and as long as the document is considered legally binding of both parties, then i think it would be a matter of who they decide to get on your point about options, we provided, have planned options that allow us to continue to engage regionally and then other excursions where we might move closer and closer
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into becoming somewhat institutional-based and kabul center. we've got all those options. i've not been told to plan for a zero option, but clearly i understand that it is a possibility, given the current task. [inaudible] >> you've both talked at sequestration several times. in early december a budget for 2015 has to be -- by the end of the month. how likely is it now that the pentagon, the military services will have to adopt this more draconian alternate budget that portends major cuts? are you expecting a congressional rescue over the next couple of weeks? >> i don't expect any kind of rescue. that's why we underwent a very thorough strategic choice and management review process,
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beginning last spring. to look at alternatives as you know that we may have to face. full sequestration played out. the president's budget. we have not seen the president's budget yet. we are working with omb on this, and as you all know we were to omb and omb gives all departments those numbers. but what the strategic review was about was planning for all those alternatives in the event -- we knew we're going to have to pick one of them or somewhere in between, and that has informed us as well as we've gone forward into institutional reform with qdr will inform us on of the present strategic strategies that he will evolve as he does every year. all the pieces that go into our
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strategies, protecting our country with the resources we have, matching those resources with mission, and the planning. has to do we expect rescues, i know there are conversations that have been going on which i understand has been optimistic about maybe the congress reaching an agreement next week. you all know about those. or before christmas. i don't know. everything is still rather uncertain, and that's what has been the most difficult part of all this for the department of defense, the uncertainty. as you know we don't have a budget. we are living with a continuing resolution until january 15, so it's still uncertain of what happens, when we continue that or a three month c.r. or a budget deal? so we have to plan for all
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possibilities, and this will get to an intersection near where we're going to have to make some decisions. wwhen omb then gives us a numbe, if something happens with the congress, there's a two-year agreement that buys back some of that sequestration. i know those are some of the conversations going on, but i would hope that the congress would take some action before they go home for christmas and not let us continue to dangle out there. you also know the issue, the national defense authorization act. there's possibility we could see for the first time in 51 years that the congress doesn't pass and ndaa. that further complicates what we're trying to do here. for our planning. >> general dempsey, -- [inaudible] are abducted, what are the
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implications for modernization programs and for the asia-pacific benefit? will those both be cut back severely both modernization and defense? >> no, not initially because what we said, tony, we're going to make sure our forces are ready to deploy and to maintain our forward presence in our deterrence. that will remain true. it's what sits beneath it though behind it that's beginning to rebuild. the way i look at -- beginning to erode. i've said this, for about three or four years it creates a huge readiness problem, because you can't shed force structure, close infrastructure, you know, reduce weapons systems early in that period. so the only place you can go to get the money is in readiness, training. and amendments. and then at the backend of it because of the debt, depth of it that we begin to lose that. he is a basketball analogy if i
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may, we still have 12 and on the team at only about eight of them are actually trained for the level you would like them to be trained in order to be competitive. on the back end of it we will only have eight players. we won't have 12. >> one more afghanistan question. the u.s. has been encouraging president karzai specifically to sign by the end of the year. what is the actual no turning back time that you need a submitted u.s. house to withdraw all troops but in the 2014. what is the amount of time you would need to logistically get that done? i think they are are we down to like 34,000 in february in which. what is your no turning back timeline? >> we are not the limiting factor. we wouldn't be to a level where it would be -- first of all, nothing is are reversible, but we wouldn't be to a level where we would begin to affect the options until probably early
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summer. so that's not the limiting factor. but don't forget that we are not in this alone. we have 44 i think contribute nations have a different set of requirements to make their decisions, and so we will see an erosion of the coalition. the other thing we'll see is an erosion of confidence by the afghan security forces, you know, as they begin to be anxious literally about whether we'll be there to support them. so it really needs to be done now mostly because was hanging in the balance in afghanistan is confidence. the afghan security forces are very capable, but they are not confident. >> the situation -- [inaudible] like many in the fight -- [inaudible] >> your question is will we continue? ..
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but of course, you know, as close partners bilateral, but all of you through nato, we would do whatever we could interview the capabilities. a redone? okay.
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[inaudible conversations] >> we heard from general dempsey in that briefing. associate press rates earlier today the general said he worries the teams underestimate how the persona they present on facebook, twitter and other social media can hurt their future careers. other chances of being accepted in the military are getting a security clearance. general dempsey made those comments earlier today at a washington conference on veterans treatment court. we are going to go live now to capitol hill for house veterans affairs sub committee, holding a hearing on the veterans affairs department backlog in processing veteran disability claims. we will hear from veteran of the families of service members as well as to be a inspector general. the chairman is the root. chairman jon runyan of new
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jersey. we expect this to get underway shortly. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] stanback good afternoon, everybody and welcome to the oversight committee subcommittee on assistance disabilities and affairs outcome can't order. for the past year, members of the subcommittee as well as full va initiatives on in order to fulfill the secondaries: disability benefits claims for 2015. vba implemented national
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initiatives within its regional offices, including challenging quality review teams come at those certification test them, simplified and fully developed claims. bba also rolled out technologies in the form of the veterans benefits management system and several other electronic projects as those two processing models for future again it might cross functional team. all along, dba indicated significant support and training from central office would be critical in this rollout. on top of the challenges on april 2013, va announced that all cases pending in excess of one you would be completed by the conclusion of fiscal year 2013. based on the new push instituted many months of mandatory overtime for its employees. bothers to consult on whether va employees were able to issue decisions of high quality within the extradited timeframe, there's also concerns that many of the oldest claims in fact
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were highly complex. regional office employees have previously reported that claims processes of passover difficult cases and would routinely decide to call at easy claims first in order to meet the production goals of the workload and workload credit parameters. thus it would stand to reason that many of these 2-year-old and 1-year-old claims cited in the past quarter constitute the challenging workload. today we will hear about a focus issue, which ties into the va's initiatives and highlights the clear necessity of uniformed central office support and thorough employee training. today's focus is on the complex claims in the special ops lanes to include multi-claims this luster might reinjury, posttraumatic stress, military trauma and claims involving
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special monthly compensation just to name a few. while va reported in november of this year that complex claims, which take an exceptional time to require special handling on the const to 10% of va's workload, these claims require highly competent, educated and experienced attention. it is importantly decisions rendered in his complex claims often have tremendous effect on the lives of these veteran. within va strategic plan refresh for fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2015, the department of veteran affairs noted no fewer than three times the strategic lan is results driven and back while we would be measured by our accomplishments and honor promises. so today we went to your accomplishments. what is going on in this high-stakes highly restless claims processing environment?
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collis employee focused on the development of issues than what is working and what's not working? also, much here but the folks at best edition of the out sub inspector general to look at specific complicated claims on an annual basis within the regional office. reviews of va oig reports as well as recent veteran testimonials are alarming. in the past four years at least 19 regional offices have been inspected by the oig on more than half the decrease in a claims processing accuracy with respect to commit brain injuries. the reports indicate the oig visit to the 10 regional office evidenced more errors than the initial visit. with respect to temporary 100% disabled claims, while improvements have been made on half of the offices are in fact
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it still could not process 50% of these claims correctly on their second inspection. there's still no other word for this but i'm except the bull feared at this time, i would like to welcome our witnesses. we will have three panels here today. currently seeded are the participants. panel one include ms. is lower in united states navy retired accompanied by mr. james price, also united states navy retired to our hero we have for veteran warriors here to mr. price's last is ms. betty mcknight, a company by mr. glenn bergmann, partner at bergmann more llc. after the conclusion, we will hear from mr. sherman gilman, associate director for veterans benefits with your last veterans of america. mr. ronald abrams for the national veteran legal program and mr. zach hearn, deputy director for claims at the
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american legion. finally, the third panel we will hear from mr. tom murphy, director compensation service or company name by ms. edna macdonald, director for national regional office. the third panel will host ms. ms. sondra mccauley, deputy assistant inspector general for audit and evaluations with office of inspector general u.s. department of veterans affairs who will be accompanied by mr. brent arronte, director of san diego benefits inspections division. additionally the hearing record will include written statements from disabled american veterans. the tragedy assistance program for survivors than ms. schaffer's wife of the veterans with instructions complete, thank you for being here today. i now yield to the ranking member for her opening statement. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman.
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and thank you wrote in this important hearing. i also like to thank the witnesses here today for their time and trouble to come and share information with us. first, i want to applaud the va for reducing the benefit by 34% in march of 2014. we know the va can maintain this momentum and we are optimistic. we want to end this decade-long backlog and we are moving in that direction. our numbers indeed show the va is on track to reach the secretary's goal by 2015. i would ask you to relay a message to the people who work for the va and tell them thank you for their efforts and to please keep up the good work. as the vba continues to work through this transformation, it is very important that we are working together towards solutions that will improve the process of providing benefits to veterans benefits that they've earned him i want him to be
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provided in the most timely and efficient manner possible. so we need to be forward-looking and so we can address the next issues rather than just the problems from the past. we want to be able to anticipate what is coming down the road so we don't create any new backlog issues. earlier this year, our subcommittee work on a package of bills that are forward-looking and i believe would help the va provide better services to our veterans. the house has passed many of these measures. they were bipartisan measures and i hope the senate will take them up and send them onto the president for his signature. one of the bill specifically was my bill, pay as you rates, which i think is appropriate to today's topic is to look at complex cases that have more than one issue involved with them. this bill would require the va to pay veterans of each of their individual medical conditions is completed. such an approach would result in veterans throughout southern nevada in my district in the
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country in receiving their payments in a more timely manner rather than waiting until the entire case is adjudicated, which can be very complex as well here. they can get pieces done as they go along. additionally, it seems that such an approach would offer the va better workload management options for some of the best va regional offices could specialize on this medical conditions, which have proven to be more challenging than our complex such as military trauma and traumatic brain injury. my colleague, ranking member has introduced a bill that would provide veterans with better decisions in a timely manner by doing just that. look forward to seeing that logo reappeared i'm proud to say we seem to be making progress that's reducing the backlog, but they're still clunkiness in the operations and effect of nicer lack of effectiveness.
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for example, i'm concerned the va may be oversimplifying over complicated and complex medical can nations. the va has essentially broken down the coding system with nearly a t the va has essentially broken down the coding system with nearly a thousand different medical conditions and atmosphere ripples into just three lanes. easy, medium and hard. that seems a pretty simplified way of working at all these different variables. when you define complexity is a number of medical conditions and claims, i am not sure that is inadequate way of looking at it. it is important to note the number of conditions doesn't necessarily dictate the complexity of the entire claim. this method of evaluating complexity make sense in a paper processing world, but as we look forward now to best practices, i believe complexity should be measured not just by the number of conditions, but rather by the complexity of evaluating and paying for the medical conditions that are under
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consideration. it's important to va look across all 56 regional offices to determine what our best practices for assigning the complicated work. we believe the vba can work with vbms to ensure the best employees are working on the most challenging cases. this subcommittee and i thank the chairman for his work on this weekend for his cooperative finance with our site of the aisle. the va's share a common goal and that is ensuring veterans receive the best benefits in a timely fashion. i think we can continue to work together as a committee with the va to develop these tools and best practices and i look forward to hearing your testimony and see what options may be available to us as we move forward. with that, i yield back. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, ms. titus.
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with that, i ask unanimous consent that chairman miller and the ranking member be able to participate in our hearing today. hearing no objections, so ordered. at this time, i would welcome our first panel to the table. your complete and written statements will be entered in the hearing record. mr. and mrs. price, thank you for your service and for being here this afternoon. mrs. price coming are now recognized for five minutes for your oral testimony. >> thank you, chairman. chairman runyan, ranking member of nine, members of the panel, better and faster to express gratitude for inviting ourselves as delegates to represent their views on the va's handling of complex claims and the challenges that are faced with most of this panel has no idea who veterans awareness is. it's exactly what it sounds
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like. we are just a bunch of veterans. but we are specialists that come from a wide variety of fields and bring in some cases decades of experience table in the team. our perl-based is to do with not just complex claims, but all issues relating to the va function. in particular, i am a combat that. i served in the navy for seven years before i was medically retired. i contracted a terminal lung disease in iraq. i also crushed both of my hands, parts of my hands and had to have my hands rebuild. i am 100% disabled. i can no longer work in my life expectancy now is probably less than two years. my husband is my primary caregiver. i don't need anything from the va any longer. my complicated claim took four years to adjudicate. not once enough for years that i
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ever present one single piece of new evidence. the entire claim was submitted fully developed in its entirety before i was discharged from the navy. i am here not to represent my claim are my issues. my husband and i are here to make sure that this panel and everyone that will listen to us all understand that cases like my own and unfortunately likenesses mcnutt's are not isolated. i personally have dealt with at this time almost 1000 cases just in the last six months of veterans and spouses and children who are dealing with complex claims that are being denied over and over and over again for being lowballed and zero rated. we are not adsl. we're not a veterans service organization by any means. our sole purpose is to work to get resolution to the manner in
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which the va is conducting business. however, we are not going to sit here and lie to anybody. we are going to make sure everyone understands that we do not agree with giving kudos to the va. over the last 12 years, the majority of the veteran that have come home and come into the system have filed complex claims. this was in a secret to the va. they were well aware of what was coming home. you have a demographic of veterans that have spent its full deployment come in various hostile environments, home. they are better educated now than they ever have been in history. they're also equipped with technology available that at a moment's notice can get information to virtually any question you have regarding benefits. the va pictures this as a
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disaster waiting to happen because these are the veteran that are filing complex claims. on november 7th, secretary shin seki took credit for reducing the backlog by one third since march. we caution this panel and everyone involved with va claims to don't take that as gospel. it's a big part of the claims process and that they are not telling people. the most insignificant type of claim is not a medical claim. it is called a dependent status change. you get married, have a child, get divorced, your child features out. it is one document with one attachment from your marriage certificate, divorce decree, what have you. those going to claims. they are adjudicated right alongside him unless a terminal lung disease for agent orange illnesses. unfortunately, those claims and
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we have been able to prove it to the subcommittee, those are the claims that they are closing and calling close in adjudicated. unfortunately, that does help numbers come down. we ask that every time you get a new report on the va's numbers, you look at a cautious way. you question the data. they are not sending in screenshots of their work products. they are creating reports. there is almost no transparency. no wonder mr. can sit down and look at all the numbers the va is working on that are generated on a daily basis. congress has never denied the va a single penny for doing its job. the current budget, over
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$54 billion is being paid out to veterans and direct benefits. the balance of their budget that they receive right now is for administration of their business. but they are not doing business properly. i could see here for hours and gave the statement after statement after statement of egregious behavior. wrongful denials and in some cases the liver of malfeasance. all we ask is you continue to press this forward. you consider our mission, to have a full veterans administration complete the rear commencing the way we do business in demanding full 100% accountability of repercussions for their actions. thank you again, mr. chairman,
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ranking number 79, esteemed panel. we are grateful for the opportunity to be here to testify in the pr to take any questions from you. >> thank you, ms. price. now we will hear from ms. mcnutt. please begin your statement when you're ready. [inaudible] >> -- complex va claims. my name is betty mcnutt. i am the widow of ronald abram mcnutt, vietnam war veteran. accompanying me today is my attorney, mr. bergmann of bergmann and more. the subcommittee and disability and memorial affairs invited me here today to discuss what has he come my most complex and now 23-year-old claim. for va dependent being in any
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compensation, i am here for two reasons. first, i am here seeking justice. i asked the va to correctly promptly applied the law and grant my claims second comes seeking justice of our veteran. in the audience today is her son who lost his father asked for a when he was 12. also in attendance today is my niece, sandra peterson, who is the daughter of a vietnam war veteran, who also died from agent orange poisoning. mr. chairman, i filed my claim in 1990. the same claim remains pending. i have waited 1600 days fda
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delays and denials. the va erroneously denied my claim seven times. for nearly 12 years, my claims that title at va because va did not respond to the notice of disagreement. the court of appeals for veterans claims returned my claim to the va three times based on errors, errors conceded by the va. i know va is waiting for me to die. without immediate attention my claim is destined to sit, idle for several more years as a way, hope and pray for resolution. my late husband, ronnie, was born in memphis, tennessee. on december 31, 1947.
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as a 19-year-old college student, he was drafted into the u.s. army. ronnie was deployed to the vietnam war in 1968 and 69. on september the 22nd, 1987, at the early age of 39, he died from an aggressive form of cancer, we could be a widow with a young son. his death came quickly from a cancer that dated any parts of his body very rapidly. ronnie died within five months. i brought a picture today of my ronnie because this hearing today is honestly about my ronnie. he died because of the vietnam war and his service to his
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country. on his deathbed, he told me about how he swam in the rivers, highly contaminated with agent orange. ronnie told me stories about using discarded agent orange arrows for barbecue pit. first, va has not contested that my husband or a micro in vietnam. second, the law presents veterans on the ground in vietnam exposed to agent orange. and third, a medical expert provided the va with two nexus medical opinions concluding that ronnie's cancer was likely as not due to his exposure to agent orange in vietnam.
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va's jackson mississippi regional office made many, many mistakes. first, i'm more than one occasion, the va applied the wrong legal standards to decide my claim. second, va ignored favorite book on medical evidence to my claim. and third, the va thought evidence to deny my claim. a lot was taken away from me 26 years ago and i've done the best i knew how as a widow to provide for my son, brandon. the impact of my husband's death on my son amend this. words can't tell you. i've had an emotional, physical and financial distress. for me, i suffered unimaginable
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grief from ronnie's death. for 8600 days, words cannot express myself. going with maybe a benefit -- going without them has meant coming home to a very cold and dark house because my utilities were turned off. it has meant receiving food and clothing from strangers as they sometimes came up sure. it has meant begging for the as a repo man stands in my driveway at 2:00 in the morning to take my car. in conclusion, the va's mistakes and their delays involve more than just me. it is not about just betty mcnutt.
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there's many betty mcnutt's out there. congress passed a law meant dating that va expeditiously process appeals like mine. however, va routinely ignores this law. now is the time for congress to put teeth into the outlaw. so other widows, like al can get accurate and prompt decision on their va claims. mr. chairman, no one should have to go through that for a thousand 600 days. thank you for listening to me. >> thank you for your testimony both ms. mcnutt in this price,
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thank you for being here and putting your personal view to all of this. i'll start with a round of questions. the clocks aren't up, but we will be a look to see if from this end. keep moving in a timely manner. first question for ms. mcnutt. talking about this process is moving forward with your aunt account and it by your employer, mr. bergmann. tell us when you're engaged in council and how that is held to you to get to where we are today on this process. you just kind of alluded to there's many, many other people. >> i was introduced to agent orange on his deathbed. after his death, that was forever in the front of my mind. so i proceeded without any help,
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without any direction. i started researching the chemicals in vietnam. i read an article in a newspaper and it was talking about agent orange. i filed a claim in 1990. most of these were just, as i said, is unclean in the dark, grasping. but as they went along, the more i learned and the more i felt it was some thing that i had to do because my house and told me about this on his deathbed for a reason, which at the time i did not understand. >> can you give a little insight on how account will -- >> after 20 years of groping in the darkness in dealing with the va all their errors, i prayed.
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i asked for help. one day i received a call from the vietnam veterans of america. i was told that i might want to seek counsel. i went online and i found mr. bergmann and i decided this is going to be the person that is going to help me. this is who i want to represent me. >> mr. bergmann, can you elaborate a little what you've done to expedite the process if you will? >> certainly, thank you. as mrs. mcnutt has indicated, her claims that for over 12 years. when we came on her case, as former va count low, my job --
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our job as attorneys do so is to connect the dots come and make sure that the evidence that is needed to satisfy the requirement is presented to va. va is supposed to in its nonadversarial posture, supposed to give notice to veterans widows. they routinely do not do that. so what we did and ms. mcnett skis as we assisted in getting the medical evidence. it wasn't difficult. her husband had a very aggressive form of cancer at the age of 39. we put the evidence together with our arguments and submitted it to va. and now, we can do all we can to dot our eyes, cross their t.'s, but we cannot make va properly apply the law. we been up to the u.s. court of appeals for veterans claims three times. each time the va attorney will
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try forwarding hey, we made a mistake here this case means to go back. that doesn't help mrs. mcnutt. but we are hop mcnutt. but we are hopeful. it's been 23 years. we are hopeful we are near the end. some of the help we get along the way, obviously the veterans choice act of 2006 is helpful in allowing attorneys early access to assisting veterans and widows. >> thank you. one question for mrs. price. from all the testimonials you've taken on a national scale, what are the most frequent errors you've heard of in the process? >> must specifically, as counsel, mr. bergman said,
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failure to apply the law correctly, complete disregard of medical evidence provided, most specifically from civilian providers. that is very high on the list. and the third one i missed rides to the top pretty regularly is the almost complete and under disregard for anything that is considered a policy rule, regulation or law. completely incapable of rudimentary reading of their own warrants of a policy. i have a very specific one in my case. the secretary sent down a policy change and order directly to the regional offices with regard to those of us to expose in iraq and afghanistan. april 6 to 2010. that application of that law --
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that policy change has to the best of my knowledge not been addressed once in the almost 5000 victims i know personally. >> thank you both for your testimony. they're very courageous to come and appreciate your willingness to share your stories. we don't want to see anybody else have to go through what you
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appeals were each case that comes down from the court as language guiding to the law section 7112 that says this case will be giving expeditious treatment. i realize i'm not being
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responsive. >> nevermind. i can ask the va for some of that information. they say their lack of training i don't understand not. stronger force should be on the law by putting someone in place or maybe more than one person that would oversee the this law is enforced, that it is a serious matter and that somethings got to change. if you can't perform your job,
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find another job. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for having this hearing and all for being here. i want to build on what the ranking member just asked. mr. bergmann, you've been on both sides legally and with your planet previously and what you do now. do you have any advice or guidance he would give this committee on how the va could work its claims process better? >> i guess the advice i would give, sir, that there be accountability. what i see as a lack of accountability. at the agency level, where we are not supposed to be on opposite sides of the aisle. the va will not talk to s. if we do get someone on the
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telephone, they'll ask us how we got their number. we get different responses each time. we cannot handle many cases at the agency level sometimes because we don't know where our file is because the kid different responses to that. so i think if we can hold the folks deciding these claims accountable, that would help veterans and widows and their counsel in expediting the process. >> accountability is a great team to bring to our attention. training and incentives. do you have any advice in those areas? >> as mrs. price talk about, she indicated her concern facing blacks on diyers do not follow simple guidelines.
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absolutely, training is key. i think the va's oig report indicated and i may be misquoting it. i think the oig is going to provide it with court later today. only 20% are properly trained. that means 80% are undertrained. these are people who are deciding our veterans disability claims. not acceptable i would say. >> okay, thank you. mrs. price, i want to thank you for service. mrs. mcnutt, thank you for your husband davis. >> thank you, gentlemen. mr. rourke. >> thank you, mr. chairman. but also like to thank the chairman for organizing today's hearing in a manner which is organized it. very often we will hear from the va and afterward bso's caruthers impacted. out of the two years the va's
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response to the issues you brought up. the review here is accountability. we want to see how that accountability is implemented and what the consequences are much, doesn't do their job properly or when there is the case of malfeasance by someone who's working against the interests of the veterans they are supposed to serve. we want to have the consequent desire specifically. i think you raise a great point. one hit home with me and sounds like the rest of the committee. ms. mcnutt, as i said when i had a chance to meet you before the hearing again, i commend you on your courage and be here. i hope your story helps galvanize the va. one, to resolve your claim, which is taken for too long already, but also to serve as the ad an inducement to ensure
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no one else is suffering what you've been through and to bring stories like yours to our attention as an oversight committee and body and attention to the va. your support of him and legacy in both of you, your reference on behalf of other veterans who are suffering the same kind of problems. i really don't have any questions. i'll reserve those based on the issues you brought up. i want to let you know your stories have hit home in a really do think they'll have their intended effect of changing the culture and adding additional power to her ability to exercise oversight over the va. thank you, mr. chairman. high-heeled that. >> i thank the chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate you holding this hearing. i appreciate the testimony.
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i know pretty well we worked together over the years on va issues and mrs. mcnutt, thank you for your courage. i know you will make a difference for others and i really appreciate so much both of you testifying today. mrs. price, first of all, thank you for your service. thank you for testifying. how want to ask a couple questions if that's okay. you have met with me over the years on particular case where can i really appreciate you work with my district office as well to help our true american heroes, veterans. i have a question with regard -- again, can you explain, lab raid a little bit on your particular case with the experience that you had over the years? i think that would be helpful to the committee as well.
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>> it's been my honor and privilege to work with europe the last few years. i know you are extremely supportive of all of us have come home, whether we need va services are not. but to answer your question, when i got home, i was still on active duty. i was stationed at.com and i was injured. i went through the medical board process. when time is finished, took about 10, 11 months to get your board process. i stayed on active duty for 18 months total in my first reading from the va came in and said you have 30%. there is a toluca criteria that has been around for decades
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based on a court case. it has to do with every single one of us that have bilateral appendage injuries. i might ask, ears, eyes, anything to s. up until the time i had a tro hearing, it appeared to be the same case manager because i'm annulling fish entrées english aficionado. who is a person road, the verbiage in the exact same person every time. the raw gravy on my hands is 230% or that's a big number, but they have a very algebraic method of using cumulative mass. both of my hands i had the bones removed in attendance rerouted so that i could actually even hope this. i can't tie my shoes. i can't but buttons.
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i can't do support acts, all kinds of things. my last surgery was follows on active duty. i also contracted this lung disease. why settle this information and elaborate radiance, testing that took five hours. the first letter that came back to me with telling me that the imputation role didn't apply to me, which is a very basic rule the va hasn't had a certain calculation model and say okay were done. we are too high. now you go over to the imputation and treated us lots of views or loss of the land. what makes it and keep it to use the imputation role. i have essentially that same answer, all three appeals. my long stay told me, they told
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me i didn't qualify. i was a convoy driver, 350 missions. i drove humvees, even iraqi city bus in downtown bag that and provided all that information in my case. pictures taken by combat drivers of me driving. they still denied me over and over and over again. i have ptsd. for a variety of reasons. when i filed the claim, they denied me right away immediately. they said, you don't have it. our evaluator said he must have had a bad childhood. no, actually i didn't. my childhood wasn't terrible. it wasn't great. i was a kid, but it had to do with the issues that have been over there.
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i was being treated by their own psychiatrist or psychologist for for years that i etf e. yet they still denied me. does that answer your question, congressman? thank you very much. >> i know my time has expired. but we have another round? i know you have three. can i have one more question? stating from 2009 the average number of issues come including a disability claim increased from two-point name for 4.9 in the va is the shooting lanes as in organizational structure to process complex claims. three or more medical issues that did not involve special populations of veteran. that's a quote here.
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can you expand upon your thoughts about this aspect of the va's testimony? >> specific to the process. >> does anybody here driving traffic? you have lanes. there's only so many. in theory, everybody uses express lanes. it would be good ones that go into the express lanes. i love that they took that title. those complicated claims are still being ignored and still being pushed aside because the lame mayhap as a group of adjusters and readers dealing with them.
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instead of them being either brokered out to offices that don't have a backlog like nebraska the oklahoma, they're not brokering them out. and then they have the core, which i don't even give a decor is. if you hit three, but it doesn't fit into what seems to be a fluid special or complex, you end up in the corner. they're also not giving any information as to what the qualifications are these people managing of the readers recommend this lanes because experienced does not tell me anything. how many is that they have raided medical claims before they went to the va clinics
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>> no questions? chairman miller? nothing? i want to thank you all again for your testimony. you are now excuse than we asked the second panel to come forward to witness table.
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>> at this time, i welcome panel two, which includes mr. sherman gillums come associate director for veterans benefits, paralyzed veterans of america, mr. ronald abrams, executive director of the national veterans legal service program and mr. zach hearn commit director for claims of the american legion. we appreciate your attendance today. a complete and written sando be entered into the hearing record. you are not recognized for five minutes for your testimony. >> thank you, mr. chairman. chairman runyan, members of the sub committee on behalf of paralyzed veterans of america come out to thank you for the opportunity to discuss complex claims, a topic that is near and dear to veterans like me and those who represent tba. complex claims in both cases they require the most experienced minds to properly
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adjudicate. this video is claimed for mandatory but small school issues with the most complicated circumstances to unravel such as military trauma, pts and catastrophic disability. since the membership is predicated on disability, that would be my focus. they have expertise in advanced and complex claims and assist them. the special monthly compensation offered the exception and we appreciate the focus on complex claims. veterans benefits has made tremendous backlog since launching initiatives. during our june 2012 testimony, complex claims remain problematic because disability benefits questionnaires, evaluation builders and will space calculators too often oversimplify cases they require
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critical thinking and objective reasoning, not algorithms to adjudicate with true efficacy. so the achieved processes are qualified by context as it relates to complex claims. the complex kind of defining accuracy in the eye of beholder. if i accuracy the veteran receives maximum entitlement and accuracy targets. if the reader and that's a given data set such as the box is checked in results and follows the rules-based prompt, decision will be freebase in its algorithmic instruction. disability evaluation do not encourage the application of judgment based principles like reasonable doubt or guide rating specialist or ambiguities in evidence that weapons and the difference between total loss of bladder control versus your genetic letter sent to someone
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with a sign up for dysfunction. this is where we have issues with the way complex claims are adjudicate under rules-based system. a veteran with severe disability may receive an accurate smc rating the definition based on limited evidence but not the most accurate rating possible that affects the case in point that sees all too often with lou gehrig's disease. a neuron disease does not slow down for the painstaking protocol ca must follow. since the passage of presumption will underpin entitlement to veterans and survivors, bb has worked over 6200 claims which has made our staff with complex faces an extremely staunch insistence timely and accurately adjudicated. you can imagine my reaction i heard about a veteran in san diego who receive notice he needed to submit to a compensation exam to prove his
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name for skilled care despite medical evidence of such need for the same position. ba has a prerogative to call claimants in for exams first unit to a claim. this prerogative has become one of those in tractable rules we criticize. the problem is the veteran was in hospice, said he could not submit to an exam. the experience link o2 is bound by the rule that exams are mandatory, even though we do not have a mr. grant this are to claim in the regulatory discretion to do so under title 38, which states in a hospital exam report from a government or private entity may be expected without further examination. unacceptable critical evidence allows the examiners to supplement files with a telephone interview with the claimant in order to complete a dbq. neither option is exercised here. there is hospice and skilled care noted in the medical
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records trigger the requirement to order an exam in the name of quantity. instead of serving the evidence of an attack, does substantiating the need for regular skilled care. common sense will give way to a calculator, which is supposed to be decision support tool, not replacement for once reasoning faculties. to make this point, i offer an analogy. three plus two always equals five and if every disability metrics like decibel level or percentage of range of motion will be achievable under the current system. these claims are like adding to or rational numbers. hi, 3.14, so on and so forth plus the square would have to to arrive at an outcome that could not be precisely found with a calculator. these claims call for an informed, qualitative analysis to find the most accurate albeit imprecise answer. that answer is never found in san diego cases the claim ultimately died